Jack Van Cleaf at The Egyptian Room in Indianapolis
February 7, 2023
Photos by Laura Fox, Review by Camber Sollberger
Folk singer/songwriter Jack Van Cleaf gained many new fans, myself included, as he opened up for Noah Kahan on Tuesday, February 7 in the Egyptian Room at the Old National Centre in Indianapolis.
Van Cleaf was joined on stage by Bennett Emery and Ethan Fortenberry. The trio seemed well connected as they played seamlessly together and interacted on stage through shared dance or a blown kiss. Bennett rocked out on the drums, but also surprised the crowd with his lovely saxophone accompaniment. Ethan played the electric guitar and provided back-up vocals, and has a solo project called Ethansroom. It was the three musician’s first time performing in Indianapolis, and they were welcomed with open arms.
Jack Van Cleaf interacted with the crowd between just about every song. He seemed to truly enjoy his music as he performed, bringing the crowd into the pictures he was painting with his words. Jack’s voice and lyrics are delicate and whimsical. He gets a lot of influence from poetry, and you can feel it in the song lyrics and melody.
During his song “Wild Roses,” a song full of “bad gardening tips” according to Jack, crowd members threw flowers on stage. You could see Jack’s face light up from across the venue. Crowd members would shout words of praise for Jack or request songs, showing he had fans of his own in the audience.
Although from California, Jack shared he or his family members were often traveling due to his father being a pilot. Jack spoke about what it is like to be a pilot’s kid in his new song, “Terrestrial Man,” which is not yet released on streaming platforms. If you send him an Airplane emoji on Instagram, however, he will send you the link to his demo and pre-save link.
His set was full of folk music - some melancholic, others a bit more upbeat. He showed off his vocal talent through a wide range and belting notes like in his set closer “Cowboy.” I understand why Noah Kahan chose to bring him on tour, as their styles are similar but distinct enough that Kahan fans would thoroughly enjoy Jack’s performance. He was a great choice to warm up the crowd for the main act.
Overall, the performance was spectacular and over much too quickly. At the end of the set, Jack hand delivered his setlist to a fan on the front row who sang along to his lyrics, and the second setlist was shot as an airplane to those further back. Although it was their first time in the city, I hope it is not their last. I would love to catch another Jack Van Cleaf performance again soon, and I recommend you check them out next time they are in town. For now, check him out on streaming platforms everywhere.